Monday, November 22, 2010

Holy Grand Prince and Martyr Michael of Tver...

Dear Friends and Family,

It has been forever since I have had a chance to post anything. Various obligations just do not allow this to happen at the moment. I did, however, want to post the life of Grand Prince and Martyr Michael, as I enjoyed reading it and thought you might as well:

“Saint Michael, born at Tver in 1272, was the son of Prince Yaroslav Yaroslavovich, who was himself the brother of Sinat Alexander Nevsky (23 Nov.). Michael was brought up in the faith and in the pracice of the virtues by his mother, who later became a nun. The strong monastic influence in his upbringing led him to see hi future in terms of a simple choice between becoming a monk or dying a martyr. God however laid on him the heavy burden of government when he succeeded his elder brother as Prince of Tver (1285). Nineteen years later he was to become, in addition, Grand Prince of Vladimir, the capital of Russia during the Mongol occupation and the seat of the Metropolitan of Kiev. In the meantime, he had married Princess Anna Dimitrievna of Rostov, who gave him four sons and four daughters.
        After some years, Michael was deprived of the Principality of Vladimir through the machinations of his kinsman Prince George Danielovich of Moscow. Michael’s counsellors urged him to take up arms against George but he preferred to give up powere rather than have his people shed their blood for him. But when George threated Tver, Michael took the advice of the Bishop to go to war agains his cousin, and he was victorious. Among his princers was George’s wife, Princess Agatha, who happened to dier in captivity as a result of an accident. Her death unleashed the fury of George against Michael and also roused up the Tatar Khan, who was Agatha’s brother. A Tatar expedition against Tver seemed all too probable, unless Prince Michael would agree to go to the Golden Horde to be judged at the court of the Khan. All Michael’s kinsmen could foresee the fatal outcome of such a proceeding, and they did their best to dissuade him from it. However, after discussing the matter with his spiritual father, the holy Prince made up his mind to go to certain death in order to spare his people.
        Held prisoner with a wooden yoke around his neck which kept his hands and arms at shoulder-height, Michael spent his days and nights chanting the services of the CHurch and Psalms of David. His son, a hostage of the Tatars, was allowed to keep him company. He turned the pages of the sacred books for his father, who was consoled by his presence. Obliged to kneel before the Khan and become a laughing-stock of the Tatars, all Michael uttered by way of complaint were the words of the Psalmist: I am an object of scorn to them: they have looked on me and they have shaken their heads. Help me, O Lord my God: O save me according to Thy mercy (Ps. 108:25-6). Thereafter the tears flowed continuously from his eyes. During the night of 21 and 22 November, he had a revelation of his approaching death. He attended the Liturgy, communicated in the holy Mysteries and having embraced the members of his family who were present, he opened the Psalter and read the words uttered by the Prophet, foreseeing the Passion of Christ: My heart is in angiusih within me: and the terrors of death have fallen upon me (Ps. 54:4). Then he added: Cast thy burden on the Lord, and He will sustain theee: He will never permit the righteous to be moved (ibid. v. 22). So, filled with courage and hope, he calmly greeted George and his henchmen who threw themselves on him like wild animals and mauled him ferociously before running him through with their swords.
        The relics of the holy Prince were returned to Moscow where they owrked many miracles. On 6 September 1320, they were translated with great solemnity to Tver. When the city was besieged by the Poles and Lithuanians in 1549, the inhabitants were encouraged by Saint Michael, who appeared in the form of an armed and mounted knight.

Through the prayers of Thy Saints, Lord Jesus Christ have mercy upon us. Amen.